15 Summer Music Experiences For Educators
Summer break is almost here! After nine hectic months focusing on your students, you get three lovely months to give to yourself. If you want to spend the summer relaxing at the beach to recharge – go ahead, you deserve it. However, you might want to spend some of the summer finding a new way to grow creatively or as a teacher. Here are our thoughts on meaningful ways you can do both.
Challenge yourself as a performer
With teaching, mentoring and leading students, it’s easy to neglect your performance chops. Summer is the time to rectify that.
- Get in front of an audience, whether it's open mic night at a local café or getting together with a couple of music teacher friends to start a summer band. Put yourself out there as a musician again.
- Pair up with another music teacher to form a duet or chamber quartet. Mentor each other, see familiar works with new eyes, or have some fun. Even if you don't want to look for public gigs, the weekly get-togethers will spark some new energy for old topics.
- Master some new pieces. You can’t have the same depth of experience on every piece you teach to students during the year. Put a few more into the “mastered” category. You could also expand your repertoire by taking on entirely new pieces.
- Devote the summer to learning a new music genre. You'll improve your technique and musical knowledge. It can also be a platform from which you'll come up with new ideas for the students. Who doesn't love a little Yo-Yo Ma and bossa nova mix?
- If you really want a challenge, learn a new instrument.
- Create some mashups for use next year. Combining classical and popular music is a great way to engage young people in classical music, even beyond your dedicated music students. If you’ve never put a mashup together before, it can take some time. Take advantage of the summer to put some together and build exercises for your students using mashups.
Go deeper into the music community and bring them music
- Volunteer at a music festival. Most look for both student and adult volunteers. Make it an excuse to do some traveling. Find festival volunteer opportunities throughout the country or even abroad. Even if you don’t volunteer, plan a summer of touring around to hit all the best summer music festivals.
- If you want to do more than volunteer, audition for a position with a summer stock musical theatre pit orchestra.
- If going abroad is the main attraction, apply for a grant from the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program. This program provides funding for teachers to spend a few months in other countries to learn about their educational practices.
- Volunteer with a hospital, community center, or senior living home to perform and/or provide some music education classes.
- Ever thought about tutoring on the side but never had time to invest in building a side gig business? Now may be that time.
Spark a new kind of creativity
Reaching to find new avenues for your creativity can break you out of a rut in how you hear and teach music. Even if you don't get new ideas about how to teach music, you'll find new outlets for your artistic side that will surely enhance your well-being.
- Take a class in another – non musical – area of the arts. Enroll in a painting, drawing, photography, or pottery class. Take a poetry writing class and do some poetry slams. If you want to expand your performance skills, take an acting class.
- Get into nature. Sure, the beach counts. But also look at joining a hiking or kayaking club, or another group where you have some separation from the crowds and can experience the quiet beauty around you.
- Visit a local museum at least once a week. You can go to different ones, as well as go back more than once to the same museum. You never see everything in one visit, right? Take advantage of the time to dig deep into their collections.
- Finally, do that project that's been on the back burner forever. Have you wanted to compose, start a blog, maybe plant a garden? Whatever – inspire yourself by making this long-time interest happen.
Summer isn’t just about recharging. It’s the perfect time to add to your bank of experiences that stay with you forever. We have even more summer retreat suggestions for teachers to check out here.